Why Thunderbolt 3 is here to stay
Thunderbolt 3 is the most exciting port a laptop can have. Although it uses the USB-C connector, it is different from the USB we know and love.
It can reach speeds of 40GBs, while also providing electricity to the device. It has the ability to daisy chain up to 6 devices.
If you’re not already familiar with it, you can read this very informative Thunderbolt 3 article.
One port type for everything
Laptops are getting thinner and lighter with every generation. Consumers demand it, as sales for this kind of devices show.
Like it or not, Apple has always been a trendsetter. Remove support for Adobe Flash, phones with non-removable batteries, and now, “The Dongle”.
The dongle is meant to replace all those ports you only use once in a blue moon with sleek and powerful Thunderbolt 3 ports. Removing the old tech makes room for the new generation of laptops and uniformity.
People on the internet seem to hate it, but I think the dongle was only meant as a temporary solution. The change to new, modern ports cannot be instant. Some years need to pass so the market catches up to the bleeding edge. The humble dongle is only a tool to allow old devices to work with the latest laptops. It allows users to still have their cakes and eat them too.
Imagine the idea behind the USB, Universal Serial Bus, actually becoming Universal. Until now, USB 2 and 3 could not replace all other adapters like HDMI and fast ethernet for example, because the bandwidth was too little.
With the launch of USB-C things started looking more promising, but after Intel released Thunderbolt 3, the direction for the evolution of ports and connects has become clear.
Ports and connectors are expensive to develop. Most researches are backed by companies that expect a return on their investment. This means that any device manufacturer that wants to use a patented connector, like HDMI and USB most first acquire a license. This can be done by paying a fee or paying a small percentage of all sales.
Another advantage of Thunderbolt 3 is that Intel has made it royalty free. In an attempt to grow the number of devices using it, Intel allows existing OEMs to use the new port without paying any money. What company doesn’t want to deliver a great product and save money in the process?
Powerful External Parts
Until now, to get good performance from a component, you’d have to connect it directly into the motherboard. This made it very difficult for laptops to get access to the latest Graphics Cards.
The 40GBs offers by Thunderbolt 3, is powerful enough to squeeze about 80% performance out of a desktop graphics card. To me, 20% isn’t that much of a drop considering that before you’d have to open up your laptop, connect an improvised PCI-Express into your motherboard and if you managed not to ruin your device during this process, you’d still have worse performance.
Adding an eGPU to a thin and lite gives you the best of best worlds. But there are other external devices that can make use of the high bandwidth like network connections, NVMe external drives, audio cards, etc.
In my opinion, most devices will have at least one Thunderbolt 3 port. If you plan on buying a laptop and keeping it for the next 4-5 years, make sure that it is equipped with this amazing piece of tech.
If you too are sold on thunderbolt laptops, you may want to check this list: 10 Best Thunderbolt 3 Laptops.